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Lord of the Flies - Fables and Allegories

The text as an allegory for its contemporary society.

Many novels written in the English language function on more than one levels. Such novels as these are called fables or allegories The aim of these narratives is moral guidance and correction. One such novel is Lord of the Flies, the first novel written by William Golding.

On the outermost level Lord of the Flies appears just to be a novel about a group of boys stranded on a desert island. The first clue of an underlying level is the departure of the novel from the trail set by such books as Coral Island and the Swiss Family Robinson. Most of the boys, stranded ion the island with no adults, gradually degenerate into a band of savage hunters, making the books more like a cross between Alive and Hatchet.

The idea of being stranded on a desert island is a traditionally European notion. The characters as resourceful and inventive, and practically the only conflict on the island is that between man and nature. Golding, who was heavily involved in World War Two, generally wrote about basic struggles between people. His book, Lord of the Flies, shows the conflict between the rational/responsible and the irrational/irresponsible on the island. Golding takes this setting and places into it a microcosm of the adult military world.

The main meaning of the novel would; to be the idea that man is inherently evil. Much of the public disgust of the time was on society: the bad influence on people that it has today. Golding challenges this view: he says that public institutions such a policemen and schools serve to keep the darker side of human nature in line. He shows this by illustrating what may happen if these barriers are eroded or removed. Civilized living and behaviors are shown to be little more than a ?veneer?, one that is easily removed under certain circumstances.

This theme is hidden on a level beneath the story: it is possible to read The Lord of the Flies as just an adventure novel. If we did, however the title would remain a mystery, for only through meaning the novel for meaning would reveal the evil in all of us: the title is a literal translation of the word Beelzebub, the most evil of devils in Hebrew mythology.

In the novel, we see the rise to power of Jack, the misleading, corrupting influence, the devil figure. To look at the level below, to ask why it is that man is inherently evil, we must look at the leadership among the boys. There are two ?candidates? for leadership[ in the beginning: Jack and Ralph. Ralph has commanded their attention with his call from a conch shell, the sign of democracy and of civilization on the island: he is voted as chief. He is not, however, a strong leader. Throughout their time on the island he continuously daydreams and he loses what ought to be vital thought very often: he needs to be reminded by Piggy and the others about the need for rescue and a fire. His one virtue is that he proclaims what is right: as a strong leader he could have kept peace, organization and the hope of rescue going.

Ralph?s rival, Jack, is the strong leader. Jack preaches fun and dance and hunting, which is offered, but then he becomes a dictator and the hunting dance turns real, with a boy as the victim. Jack does not plan for the future, disregarding Ralph?s insistence for the need for a signal fire, and he forces his pride onto the whole tribe, moving them away from the logical spot to stay, just to be away from his rival, Ralph. The boys willingness to be irresponsible and to follow just the strong leader shows their internal evil. AT the end of the novel, after degenerating into primitive savages, the ?Noble British lads? hunt down the good leader, Ralph, to kill him.

On a whole, the levels underneath the plot of Lord of the Flies make it a better novel. While the plot, taken as it is, makes an interesting (though grisly,) story, the levels underneath add a whole new set of meaning to it. With the meaning showing us the problem. we can stand back, look at society, and hopefully address some of its problems.

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